IVR: at the end of the call, and after agreeing to do so, the customer may be passed through to an automated IVR
system, which typically asks a mixture of open and closed questions which can be answered with a combination of touchtone and speech. This has the benefit of immediacy, in that the caller will be able to give an accurate assessment of the call, and the agent, and also the business may be alerted in near-real-time to any major problems through pre-programmed automated SMS or email alerts.
The speed and ease with which an agent-invited IVR survey can be implemented give it a distinct advantage over a survey conducted via outbound calls. The resources and staff time required to make outbound calls often mean that they are conducted erratically and rarely during peak times which undermines the quality and usefulness of the data collated. As agent-invited IVR surveys are automated, they require little staff input and can monitor customer satisfaction whenever the contact center is open.
Outbound automated surveys are becoming more prevalent. After the call has been concluded, the caller's number may be put into an outbound dialer's queue, which calls them and offers an IVR survey. The speed with which this call-back is made is crucial to the take-up rate of the survey, with up to 70% acceptance rate if the call- back is in minutes, but perhaps only 10% if the call is made over 48 hours later.
Written: a system-generated letter is posted to the customer soon after an interaction takes place, requesting
feedback. Typically more customers who have had a poor experience will bother to return the questionnaire, skewing the figures, and although some good and detailed learning points can emerge, it's an expensive way to survey customers. It's also the case that results will be tilted towards the demographics with more time available to them, especially older people. There can be a lack of immediacy, and some people might feel that sending out a written questionnaire to ask about how well a call was handled is over-kill.
In today’s multimedia society, it is important to choose a survey platform that caters for all your customers. Though many customers want to continue to contact you by telephone, there are others who prefer to text or email and it is necessary to offer consistent service across your business. Monitoring all interactions to the company will give comprehensive insight into customers’ opinions of the service you offer.
Similarly, different customers will prefer to be surveyed in different ways and a survey platform should have the flexibility to support IVR, web, text and written surveys and collate the results in a unified reporting system. Not only will this mean that you are increasing the number of customers you access, but you will get a different quality of feedback from each approach.
Written surveys via letter or person-to-person interviews, have an important role to play, particularly where the feedback generated can be compared side-to-side with feedback by other methods. Having quantitative and qualitative data provides valuable feedback that can’t be achieved by adopting a single surveying method.
Outbound: frequently, the contact details of a proportion of incoming callers will be passed to a dedicated
outbound team, who will call the customer back, often within 24 hours, to ascertain the customer’s level of satisfaction with the original call. Sometimes customers will find this intrusive, while others will welcome the chance to provide feedback. Additionally, certain companies employ outside agencies to survey customers
regularly, which may be useful in benchmarking exercises, since they will apply a more formalized and structured approach to data gathering and presentation. The automated option as mentioned in the IVR section above should also be considered as an option.
SMS: Text messaging has the advantage of immediacy of sending and also of reporting on the results. It is a cheap
way of carrying out surveys, and can be linked to a specific agent, allowing the contact center to use this information for agent performance as well as satisfaction with the business. SMS does not allow detailed or multiple questions though, and businesses will have to collect mobile numbers if they do not already have them. However, take-up rates are better than many other forms of feedback (at around 25-35% on average), and younger and more time-poor customers are more likely to respond, providing a wider universe of responses across demographics. This form of survey can allow the contact center to identify very unhappy customers and schedule an outbound call to deal with the problem.
Contact centers tend to state that telephony is the most effective customer satisfaction survey method currently being used, especially when it is done by an in-house team. Although outbound calls are expensive, they can gather more detailed information about specific comments, rather than just statistics, further allowing the company to rectify unacceptable service hopefully before the customer defects elsewhere.
We would suggest that there is no single best way to gauge customer satisfaction. If detailed feedback is what's needed, a written or telephone-based questionnaire is best, although IVR can offer the option of direct quotes through speech recognition or recording transcription. If what you need is immediate knowledge about an issue (including your customers' views of your agents' performance), consider post-call IVR or an SMS survey. The more information you have at your disposal, the more confident you can be that you understand your customers fully. Despite this discussion, carrying out the survey is the easy bit. Many companies pay lip service to listening to their customers. The question is…do they actually hear what their customers say? And more importantly do they act upon it to change or improve their processes? There is no point in generating an expectation which you have no intention of fulfilling. Don’t ask the customers for feedback if you have no intention of using it to make the service you provide them with substantially better.
Formal surveys of customer satisfaction offer the customer a chance to feed-back, and the business to learn. Setting up surveys involved various elements which should not be overlooked, including:
• Defining the purpose and objectives of the survey • Deciding the approach
• Developing the questionnaire • Carrying out the survey • Collating the data • Analyzing the results
The point of a customer satisfaction survey is to discover what the company is doing wrong, where improvements can take place, how the company is perceived against its competition and how it can improve. It is important to view the survey from the customers’ perspective, rather than checking boxes that just relate to internal company metrics, which is self-serving. Surveys should also be ongoing, to check whether real improvements are being made after the issues have been identified.
Survey forms should be simple and quick to complete, but if possible should carry enough weight to allow the company to change its processes and behaviors if that is what is required, using a mixture of objective questions that can be segmented and scored, as well as free text, especially in telephony questionnaires, where customers can be encouraged to add real value.
For surveying contact center users, the key to success is to keep the survey fairly short, with a maximum of around 5 questions, which can be range-based (e.g. "strongly disagree", "disagree", "neutral", "agree", "strongly agree", etc), a more simple Yes/No option and a free-text, 'any comments' question. These questions may include:
• Was the call answered quickly? • Was the agent polite?
• Were you satisfied with the response?
• Was this the first time you had called about this matter? • Do you have any comments you would like to make?
Opinion is split on whether surveys should identify specific agents, as although major outlying training and behavioral problems can be identified, many operations are keen to avoid the 'Big Brother' feeling of spying on agents, and prefer to emphasize that surveys are done to identify broken processes, not to criticize individuals. Regardless of whether surveys identify specific agents or not, what is key to success is whether the surveying you implement is considered by your agents as just yet another form of monitoring, or a genuine attempt to help them provide better service in the long run. Agents tend to respond well to successful customer satisfaction
improvement initiatives as they usually make their job easier and more rewarding. Keep the survey process simple, focus on agent engagement and act quickly to provide positive feedback to your team. It’s more important to get your survey adopted as a positive part of your company’s customer service strategy, than it is to design the academically-perfect survey that has a negative impact on the morale of your team.
As the following table shows, there has been an increase in the ways in which agents are rewarded for good performance, with revenue, cross-sell & upsell rates and Net Promoter Score being much more likely to be used than in previous years, a sign that businesses are looking at ways to reward the link between good service and positive customer experience.
Figure 19: How do contact center staff get rewarded?
Despite customer satisfaction being consistently reported as one of the most important issues for contact center managers to track, more than half of respondents do not reward agents based upon the customer satisfaction rating achieved (although this is an improvement on last year's figure), with traditional call performance metrics and revenue targets being used just as often to reward agents. Without the direct link between customer
satisfaction (preferably at an agent-level) and reward, it is difficult to promote those behaviors that lead over time to customer loyalty and advocacy. As things stand, if an agent has to choose between hitting call targets or spending longer with the customer, it would be just as rational for them to pursue better call metrics, and this could hold back superior customer experiences.
At a management level, reward methods are fairly similar to agents, although fewer are linked with cross-sell and upsell rates and first-call resolution, with a slightly greater emphasis on sales.
47% 47% 47% 39% 35% 20% 50% 43% 40% 28% 27% 21% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60%
Revenue / sales Call performance stats (e.g. speed to answer, call abandonment, call
Customer satisfaction rating
Cross-sell / up-sell rates
First-call resolution Net Promoter Score